This small country at the west end of Europe is a paradise for pescetarians. There is virtually an endless variety of fish and seafood dishes and, best of all, all of it is freshly caught from the Atlantic waters. I imagine for Portuguese people eating frozen imported fish is akin to Italians eating frozen German supermarket pizza. Portuguese cuisine can and will satisfy any “fish” desire. Plates offer big portions of steaming sea food, ready to sink your teeth into freshly caught cod or octopus.
But for those of you who do not know, Portugal is THE place to have sardines. Sardines that is, in all sizes, shapes and with additions. Fresh and canned, depending on what you feel like. My knowledge of sardines was always limited to two kinds; the ones in tomato sauce and the ones in oil, both variety coming in rather ugly looking cans, hidden next to tuna cans. It was not appealing at all.
Not in Portugal. Shops have separate sections with canned sardines, and the offer is literally mind-blowing. Different companies, different packaging, with chili, pickles, sunflower oil, tomato sauce, olive oil, olive oil with chili, with lemon, and much more. On top of that, there is a whole line of sardines pate and spreads. I was in heaven!
Interesting enough canned sardines are not only offered for hungry travelers as souvenirs, but they are part of the menus in wines bars, cafes and even in restaurants. Locals and tourists can enjoy excellent match of small dishes and local wine. Even port wine complements some of these dishes.
After this trip my fridge had a make-over. There is a semi-permanent section for canned sardines now, preferably by Portuguese company and a bottle of port wine ready to be consumed at any time.